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Federal aid to offset local costs of ice storm clean up
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Storm costs
(As of the end of March)
Hall County: $300,000
Gainesville: $161,000

President Barack Obama has allocated federal aid funding to assist Hall County and other regions affected by an ice storm in mid-February, which toppled trees and knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents.

The storm, and subsequent cleanup, has been costly for local governments.

The county’s road maintenance division reported that it had spent about $300,000 clearing streets of tree limbs and removing other storm debris by the end of March.

That money covered payroll, supplies, fuel and vehicle and equipment maintenance, among other expenses.
But the total cost of the storm clean up is rising and still being calculated, as invoices for equipment rental and expenses from other county divisions are tallied.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden estimated that the storm produced about 30,000 cubic yards of debris for removal, and more than 2,200 miles of county roads had to be checked and cleared.

County Administrator Randy Knighton said all funding options are being considered to limit the financial impact on local government.

“We appreciate the federal government’s acknowledgement of the severity of the situation here, and we are actively investigating what federal funding may be available in order to decrease local expenses associated with the storms,” he said. “In addition, we have already been in contact with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency about mitigation efforts, as well.”

Meanwhile, winter storm clean-up costs for Gainesville had surpassed $161,000 by the time efforts were wrapping up in late March.

City Council voted in February to allocate $50,000 from the general fund contingency budget to support continued cleanup efforts in the wake of the ice storm.

Employees in the Public Works Department logged over 1,250 hours of overtime during the clean-up, according to Assistant Director Chris Rotalsky.

“We are grateful for the state advocating on our behalf to the federal government for this declaration,” said Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett. “This will help offset the costs incurred by the city during our winter events.”

The disaster aid funding  will also benefit Banks, Barrow, Dawson, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Oglethorpe, Pickens, Stephens and White counties.

According to a press release, “Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm …”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that it might make additional aid available if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.